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I bumped heads with a Falcons podcaster this week. He believes the Falcons regime is under immense pressure to win right away and I told him that Fontenot and Smith are playing with house money for a year. Seeing if they can do something positive with TD's personnel gives them a built-in excuse if things go wrong. IMO, that's the opposite of being on the hot seat. Then, I read this article on Fansided (I know, I know...) which I thought was interesting. It offered the perspectives of various personnel execs about what we need to do next.

Falcons at crossroads after Julio Jones trade

This week, we survey NFL executives on where the Falcons go after trading Julio Jones, dives into the Broncos passing on a quarterback and much more.

The Atlanta Falcons did what was painful but necessary Sunday, trading arguably the greatest player in franchise history, wide receiver Julio Jones, to the Tennessee Titans.

 

Sources inside the league are split on where they believe Atlanta goes from here.

“They had to get rid of him now,” a veteran personnel evaluator tells FanSided. “With a new head coach, a new general manager, and a new culture going in, the last thing you want is a disgruntled veteran leader who is highly, highly respected by teammates in that locker room, especially during training camp. Everybody feeds off him. If it’s inevitable, and your owner is on board, do it. Make the trade.”

New general manager Terry Fontenot did exactly that, Sunday, shipping Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Titans in exchange for a second-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, as well as a fourth-round pick in 2023, ending an era in Atlanta and bringing many questions to the fore.

Jones gives Tennessee improved odds to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and his departure leaves Atlanta at a crossroads.

“They need to get out of cap **** next year, try to build around Matt Ryan over the next two years,” a current NFC personnel executive tells FanSided. “And pray.”

Many NFL scouts say Jones remains the league’s premier wide receiver after averaged 85 receptions for 1,289 yards and six touchdowns through the first 10 seasons of his career. However, Atlanta ended up moving on following a decade’s worth of poor drafting and mismanagement of the cap.

For Fontenot, the Jones deal represents a significant step towards cleaning up the significant mess left behind by his predecessor, Thomas Dimitroff.

During Dimitroff’s 13 seasons as Atlanta’s general manager, the only players the Falcons chose in the NFL Draft who eventually became First-Team All-Pro selections were Jones, linebacker Vic Beasley, and quarterback Matt Ryan.

 

Now, with Ryan about to enter his 13th season at age 36, the Falcons have approached a fork in the road when it comes to trying to piecemeal a roster around the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback or tear it down and start from scratch.

“If I’m the Falcons, I’m ripping the Bandaid off and going full rebuild,” an AFC scout tells FanSided. “Draft a quarterback next year and use the picks from the Julio trade to rebuild. You can’t try to win now and try to rebuild now. That’s how you wind up in purgatory.”

For the Falcons, though, it isn’t that easy.

When Atlanta passed on quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 4 overall pick, choosing Kyle Pitts, the Falcons were signaling they believe they can win now.

That’s one risky and one super-expensive proposition.

 

Especially for a Falcons franchise that now finds itself with just $16.14 million in cap space this season and $15.65 million in projected cap space in 2022, 11th-lowest in the league.

In the interim, the NFC executive believes all hope is not lost for the Falcons, even after Jones’ departure.

“They have some pieces,” the executive says. “Their offensive line is solid, for the most part. Ryan, (Calvin) Ridley, and Pitts are a nice trio. Grady Jarrett, A.J. Terrell and Deion Jones are nice pieces on defense. The cupboard isn’t completely bare. Ryan and a new coach will make up for some of that team’s deficiencies.”

But, if the Falcons instead decide to tear it all down and try to trade Ryan, eyeing a rookie quarterback on a rookie contract in 2022 in an offense with Ridley and Pitts, the price would add up quickly.

By trading Ryan post-June 1, the move would trigger a $24.9 million dead-cap charge while freeing up $23.7 million spending flexibility.

 

“Everything about Atlanta’s future depends on how Matt Ryan plays,” the evaluator says. “I think Matt has at least two or three really good years left. You have to protect him, give him some personnel around him so he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.”

Trading Jones freed up cap space for the Falcons in 2022, but they’ll absorb a large dead cap hit this season, which certainly complicates the already difficult prospects of rebuilding on the fly around Ryan.

“Matt can still play,” the evaluator believes. “If you gave me the chance to start Matt Ryan or a journeyman like Ryan Fitzpatrick, give me Matt Ryan every time. What the Falcons should do is take the money freed up by trading Julio and invest it in the best offensive tackle free agent this offseason and take a tackle in the first-round. You can win with what they have.

“But here’s the thing, they have to, absolutely have to hit on free agency and the NFL Draft the next couple years. They have to. They haven’t done that for a long time, and that’s why they have a new GM and a new head coach.”

For all of the uncertainty the Falcons face, Tennessee elevated its chances of winning a Super Bowl this season.

The Titans get to drop Jones into an offense that already features A.J. Brown, who caught 70 passes for a career-high 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and running back Derrick Henry who will be going for his third consecutive rushing title.

“You’re gambling bigger than life because of the contract you’re paying Julio and crossing your fingers he stays healthy,” the evaluator says. “But just look at their odds, Las Vegas gave the Titans better odds to win the Super Bowl after the trade, after acquiring one player … Who isn’t a quarterback. Julio is special. This trade is a big-time win for Tennessee.”

https://fansided.com/2021/06/09/falcons-trade-julio-jones-broncos-quarterback-rumors/

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So let me get this straight...We should have passed on the best player in the draft to draft the 4th best Quarterback who went 11th??

Im gonna miss everybody.     

I've been a Falcon fan over half a century now. I've seen it all. I think I'll give Terry and Arthur a fair chance before I prepare for impending doom because we traded a 32 year old WR.

2 minutes ago, peoriabird said:

So drafting the best player in the draft is a mistake???  I don't understand.

It’s a gamble. Obviously if Matt stays healthy and productive for the next two, three years and we win a championship; the right move was made. Beyond that, to pass up on Fields (if he turns out to be **** hood; which he might NOT) will forever be looked at as a blunder.

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10 minutes ago, jetpac said:

It’s a gamble. Obviously if Matt stays healthy and productive for the next two, three years and we win a championship; the right move was made. Beyond that, to pass up on Fields (if he turns out to be **** hood; which he might NOT) will forever be looked at as a blunder.

So let me get this straight...We should have passed on the best player in the draft to draft the 4th best Quarterback who went 11th??

Edited by peoriabird
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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, peoriabird said:

So let me get this straight...We should have passed on the best player in the draft to draft the 4th best Quarterback who when 11th??

Did you read any of what I wrote or you just want to be in your feelings? Let me know. Because I’m pretty sure I didnt say any of that. 

Edited by jetpac
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3 minutes ago, peoriabird said:

So let me get this straight...We should have passed on the best player in the draft to draft the 4th best Quarterback who when 11th??

right.  we should have traded our 4th pick for the 11th pick straight up!

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5 minutes ago, jetpac said:

Did you read any of what I wrote or you just want to be in your feelings? Let me know. Because I’m pretty sure I did t say any of that. 

You said passing on Fields would forever be look at as a blunder right?  You also said that Matt has to stay healthy and we must win a championship for it not to be seen as a blunder?  What did I miss??

Edited by peoriabird
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That was ...well terribly written.

The falcons have not suffered from a "decade of poor drafting and cap mismanagement"

Evaluations of TD drafts have been going on here for a decade and a half but realistically if you look at the number of players that he drafted who are either still in League or who have had long careers.....That number is as good as anybody else that you can compare them to.

I mean if we dumped Matthews, Debo, Grady, Ridley, Lindstrom, McGary Terrell and some others today.... nearly all of them would have contracts by tomorrow because Matthews, Grady,Debo, and Lindstrom would be improvements over more than half the league for their position.

And atlanta has not been in any worse cap shape than anyone else over that time either.

We are not at a crossroads anymore than any other team in the league is.

Every team is at a crossroads every year.

It never ceases to amaze me how somehow the situation in Atlanta is always more dire than everybody else in the league no matter the situation.

Oh Atlanta can't sign their picks without clearing space.....no mention of the other 24 or 25 teams that have to do the exact same thing.

 

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I do not know why more teams don't just "rip the Band-Aid off" like he suggests.  Come in, get rid of everybody with known talent, draft someone you could have but didn't, pick up a bunch of other rookies and picks, still trade Julio since he wanted out and before you know it. you're winning Super Bowls.  So simple and works every time.  /purple.

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5 minutes ago, falconsd56 said:

That was ...well terribly written.

The falcons have not suffered from a "decade of poor drafting and cap mismanagement"

Evaluations of TD drafts have been going on here for a decade and a half but realistically if you look at the number of players that he drafted who are either still in League or who have had long careers.....That number is as good as anybody else that you can compare them to.

I mean if we dumped Matthews, Debo, Grady, Ridley, Lindstrom, McGary Terrell and some others today.... nearly all of them would have contracts by tomorrow because Matthews, Grady,Debo, and Lindstrom would be improvements over more than half the league for their position.

And atlanta has not been in any worse cap shape than anyone else over that time either.

We are not at a crossroads anymore than any other team in the league is.

Every team is at a crossroads every year.

It never ceases to amaze me how somehow the situation in Atlanta is always more dire than everybody else in the league no matter the situation.

Oh Atlanta can't sign their picks without clearing space.....no mention of the other 24 or 25 teams that have to do the exact same thing.

 

You tank in basketball not football.  That article was one of the worst articles I've ever read.

Edited by peoriabird
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4 minutes ago, falconsd56 said:

That was ...well terribly written.

The falcons have not suffered from a "decade of poor drafting and cap mismanagement"

Evaluations of TD drafts have been going on here for a decade and a half but realistically if you look at the number of players that he drafted who are either still in League or who have had long careers.....That number is as good as anybody else that you can compare them to.

I mean if we dumped Matthews, Debo, Grady, Ridley, Lindstrom, McGary Terrell and some others today.... nearly all of them would have contracts by tomorrow because Matthews, Grady,Debo, and Lindstrom would be improvements over more than half the league for their position.

And atlanta has not been in any worse cap shape than anyone else over that time either.

We are not at a crossroads anymore than any other team in the league is.

Every team is at a crossroads every year.

It never ceases to amaze me how somehow the situation in Atlanta is always more dire than everybody else in the league no matter the situation.

Oh Atlanta can't sign their picks without clearing space.....no mention of the other 24 or 25 teams that have to do the exact same thing.

 

Talk to em

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Not at a Crossroads. We don't have to decide on a direction, we've already set our course with Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot. They are under ZERO pressure to win this year. They dam sure better be safe next year too because the mess DQ and TD left couldn't be cleaned up in a season.

If Blank gives these two the time he gave the previous regime, they will make the Falcons better than they've ever been before. You can take that to the bank.

 

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33 minutes ago, peoriabird said:

So let me get this straight...We should have passed on the best player in the draft to draft the 4th best Quarterback who went 11th??

It's exactly as stupid as it sounds. 

 

Which is *remarkably* stupid. 

 

  

1 minute ago, JayOzOne said:

I was just thinking that since Tennessee got Julio for a second rounder, maybe we could send them a first to get him back. They'd be crazy to turn it down.

Considering some of the posts I've seen on this board this offseason... I wouldn't be surprised if someone said that.

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17 minutes ago, falconsd56 said:

That was ...well terribly written.

The falcons have not suffered from a "decade of poor drafting and cap mismanagement"

Evaluations of TD drafts have been going on here for a decade and a half but realistically if you look at the number of players that he drafted who are either still in League or who have had long careers.....That number is as good as anybody else that you can compare them to.

I mean if we dumped Matthews, Debo, Grady, Ridley, Lindstrom, McGary Terrell and some others today.... nearly all of them would have contracts by tomorrow because Matthews, Grady,Debo, and Lindstrom would be improvements over more than half the league for their position.

And atlanta has not been in any worse cap shape than anyone else over that time either.

We are not at a crossroads anymore than any other team in the league is.

Every team is at a crossroads every year.

It never ceases to amaze me how somehow the situation in Atlanta is always more dire than everybody else in the league no matter the situation.

Oh Atlanta can't sign their picks without clearing space.....no mention of the other 24 or 25 teams that have to do the exact same thing.

 

It stands to reason that teams who are most likely to draft all-pros are those picking earlier in the draft. First come, first served. The fact that we haven't grabbed more stars in the draft might lend itself to the fact that we've been picking in the latter half of the draft for most of a decade. If that's the fact, it's disingenuous to talk about how horrible the drafting has been.

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4 minutes ago, Drunken Minotaur Zebra said:

It's exactly as stupid as it sounds. 

 

Which is *remarkably* stupid. 

 

  

Considering some of the posts I've seen on this board this offseason... I wouldn't be surprised if someone said that.

I should have purped but I took the chance that I'm not that ill considered around here.

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